Visiting Uttarakhand is always a good idea. However, if you have to drive from Delhi to the state, the travel time does come into your mind often and especially if you are anticipating a traffic like situation. This time, I was rather less perplexed with such thoughts as I got a Monday off (a public holiday), so an extended weekend made us more determined to have a good drive to the hills.
We chose to go to Chakrata this time. Chakrata is a cantonment town with lot of army presence in the area. Which means that civilian construction is very limited. Chakrata is part of the Jaunsar-Bawar region in the state of Uttarakhand. This region falls between the two rivers (Yamuna and Tons). Yamuna originates from Yamunotri and Tons river originates from the Bandarpoonch massif. So practically the entire stretch of the land between these two rivers is part of the Jaunsar Bawar region. Jaunsar-Bawar region is a tribal belt of Uttarakhand and natives consider them as descendents of the Pandavas and Kauravas. According to the legend, Kind Duryodhana (the eldest of the Kaurava brothers), built the Mahasu Temple at Hanol in Uttarkashi district. This temple is still revered by the jaunsaris and other communities in the region.
Delhi to Chakrata distance is about 350 kms. We took the Delhi-Hardwar highway and took a detour at Roorkee towards Saharanpur. About 25kms into the highway, you reach a place called Chutmalpur from where there is a diversion for Herbertpur/Vikasnagar. From here it takes about 2 hours to reach Herbertpur which is in Uttarakhand (just after crossing the UP-Uttarakhand Border).
Herbertpur gives you the first proper glimpse of the mountains that lie ahead (that purple smudge of the distant hills). Herbertpur/Vikaspur and until Kalsi, the road is pretty straight and passes through these towns (almost now racing to be cities). People from the Jaunsar-Bawar region have migrated to these areas and have settled here. Even those living in the mountains, Vikasnagar is their main market for supplies or other services such as health, education, etc. About 1 km before Kalsi, you cross a bridge over the Yamuna river. This is where you will have your first tryst with the mighty Yamuna (serene and clear) , exact opposite of the form you saw it at Delhi. An old bridge is also visible on your right, probably made during the British era.
At Kalsi, you enter into the cantonment belt and cross the army check-post. From here starts your hill drive towards Chakrata which is about 35 kms from Kalsi. About 2-3 kms ahead, there is a diversion for Barkot/Yamunotri should you wish to take that path. We drove straight towards Chakrata. The road is good mostly but some bumpy rides can be expected (however the PWD dept. people can be seen working hard on the road). The hill ride is not much arduous and the first major town that you hit is called Sahiya. It’s a pretty big place with a thriving market (clothes, vegetables, fruits, etc). From here, Chakrata is another 20-25 kms and the real climb starts from here. Road condition is not good at many places on this stretch. The view from here gets better and better and about 10 kms from Sahiya, you start driving along the deodar trees.
Chakrata is perched on a hill top. There is a small market here but don’t expect a commercial centre typical of hill stations like Nainital or Mussoorie. This is an army area and things are pretty much regulated here. Due to this, most of the hotels/resorts/homestays/etc. are located on the Lakhamandal road.
We stayed for a night at Himalayan paradise hotel (actually a Himalayan home I should call it) which is about 5 kms from Chakrata on the Lakhamandal road. Located right on the main road with no other construction in the vicinity (but they still call it village Kimona). We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here, great facility, great ambience, good food and great people. In case you are looking for stay options in Chakrata, we highly recommend staying here http://www.hotelhimalayanparadise.com/
Nearby attraction – Tiger Fall
Tiger fall is a great place to visit if you are visiting chakrata. Located about 20kms from Chakrata. The last 5 kms drive is on a rough road with space for only one vehicle to move at a time. Hence, the drive in itself is an adventure.
Going to tiger fall requires 1 km walk from the point where you park your vehicle. The fall is worth a visit with such a fast flow of the water from the top. The fall is 300+ ft in height and it definitely worth a visit. There is a changing room available and a small shop should you wish to have a cup of tea or noodles.
We stayed another night in Chakrata , however, this time at the Forest Guest House belonging to the forest division of Chakrata at Janglat Chowki (about 5-6 kms from Chakrata on the Tuini highway). Now this is the forest and cantonment area. The area around Chakrata belongs to the forest department. During the british era, many such forest rest houses were built. The one where we stayed in dates back to 1887.
Though we were told that stunning Himalayan views of the Bandarpoonch and Deoban peaks are visible from here, but due to the haze, we just could not see it. But nonetheless, with the calm, cool breeze and stunning deodar trees around, we were content with our visit. This is what we came here for away from the hustle and bustle of Delhi.
Though we stayed at the Forest Rest house, for all our meals, we went to the dhabas at Janglat Chowki. There are a couple of shops here and you can get pretty much all the basic stuff.
The next morning, we drove on the Tuini road (Tiuni is at the border of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh). There is a deoban forest area which is one of the tourist attractions. One can visit this place, however, it’s a dirt road and only heavy vehicles or those with expert driving should do this. Deoban is about 15 kms from the Jaglat Chowki or 20 kms from Chakrata. They say there is a vyas shikhar where the rishi Ved Vyas sat and wrote the epic Mahabharata ( I thought his study room was only in Mana village near Badrinath where he wrote the epic)
If you want to be in the hills but away from all the noise, etc, chakrata is definitely worth a visit. During winter time, the whole area is covered under the thick of snow going upto 3-4 ft.
While driving back to Delhi, we decided to take a different route from Herbertur i.e. via Haryana. From Herbertpur, we took the road towards Paonta Sahib (about 15kms from Herbertpur) located in Himachal Pradesh just after crossing the mighty Yamuna.
From here, after visiting the gurudwara, we took the Jagadri – Yamunagar-Ladwa-Karnal and then the NH-1 highway to Delhi. This route is about 20 kms more than the route we took while going to Chakrata, however, in terms of the quality of road and time, this can be preferred over the other one.
A great weekend+1 day trip came to an end!!
What is going to be my motivation to go to Chakrata again !
- PEACE with very limited people/hotels/almost no shops around
- During winter time – hell of a snow here
- I would certainly want to drive upto Hanol temple crossing the tons river at Tuini or probably get into Himachal Pradesh from there. Shimla is about 210 kms from Chakrata. The drive will certainly be an adventurous one
- Visit Lakhamandal – Acient shiva temple is located here. About 70 kms from Chakrata
- Trek up the Deoban/ Vyas Shikhar – though this will be a difficult trek but can be coupled with camping in the open area near the forest rest house at Deoban
- There are a few places close to chakrata that offers water sports activities in the Yamuna river
I was around and had plans to visit Chakrata during one winter, unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Maybe one day! Great clicks and info, thanks 🙂
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